Justia Kansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's upholding the suspension of Michael Creecy's driver's license by the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDR) but held that Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1020(d)(2)'s monetary requirement to obtain a due process hearing, without any exception for the indigence of the licensee, renders that provision facially unconstitutional. On appeal, Creecy challenged the constitutionality of section 8-1020(d)(2), which requires a motorist whose driver's license has been confiscated by a law enforcement officer as a consequence of a driving under the influence arrest to pay a $50 fee to be granted an administrative hearing on the issue of the license deprivation. The court of appeals affirmed the district court. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the court of appeals and the district court on the constitutionality of section 8-1020(d)(2), holding that the provision is unconstitutional and the remedy is a refund of the $50 fee; and (2) affirmed the suspension of Creecy's driver's license, holding that there was no merit of Creecy's other claims. View "Creecy v. Kansas Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's ruling that a $50 fee mandated by Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1020(d)(2) to gain administrative review of a driver's license suspension is unconstitutional and affirmed the suspension of Warren Meats' driver's license, holding that Meats was not entitled to relief in this appeal. Meats requested an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension of his driver's license. An ALJ affirmed the suspension. Meats petitioned for de novo review, arguing, inter alia, that the $50 fee required to obtain an administrative hearing was unconstitutional. The district court affirmed the driver's license suspension but ruled that section 8-1020(d)(2)'s requirement as to the fee was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court considered the constitutional argument in Creecy v. Kansas Department of Revenue, __ P.3d ___ (this day decided), and held that the $50 fee requirement in section 8-1020(d)(2) is facially unconstitutional, but because Meats did not appeal the district court's ruling that the issue was moot as to him, Meats was not entitled to relief in this appeal; and (2) there was no merit to Meats' other claims. View "Meats v. Kansas Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the district court's summary denial of Defendant's second Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion and remanding the case to the district court for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether trial counsel was ineffective, holding that the court of appeals applied an incorrect standard to determine whether the district court should have considered a second or successive motion. In his second section 60-1507 motion Defendant argued that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to pursue a defense of mental defect and to request jury instructions regarding the defense of mental defect. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a hearing on whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate Defendant's mental defect defense. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in holding that the district court did not have to find exceptional circumstances to consider the merits of Defendant's section 60-1507 motion. View "Littlejohn v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's convictions of stalking and criminal threat, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held that the court of appeals did not err in (1) concluding that a rational fact-finder could have found all of the elements necessary to determine that Defendant was guilty of stalking, as charged; (2) failing to address Defendant's claim that he was entitled to an instruction and argument regarding a defense that the victim waived her right to enforce a protection from abuse order; (3) concluding that the district court did not err in failing to give the jury a limiting instruction concerning a protection from abuse court order; and (4) refusing to grant Defendant a new trial due to cumulative error. View "State v. Chavez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' decision that affirmed the sentencing court's imposition of an extended probation term as being a legal sentence notwithstanding the sentencing court's reliance on an inapplicable statutory provision, holding that Defendant's sentence was illegal because the court of appeals refused to apply the mandatory precedent of State v. Whitesell, 13 P.3d 887 (Kan. 2000). Whitesell required the sentencing court to state for the record substantial and compelling reasons to depart from the presumptive duration of probation. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court's failure to state its reasons in imposing a departure sentence resulted in an illegal sentence. The court of appeals affirmed after recognizing that Whitesell applied departure sentencing procedures to an increased probation term, declaring that Whitesell no longer controlled due to changes in the law. The Supreme Court disagreed and vacated the probation portion of Defendant's sentence, holding that the court of appeals' decision overruling this Court's holding was an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Hambright" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the district court's summary denial of Defendant's untimely pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504, holding that Defendant did not raise a colorable claim to excuse his untimely filing. The court of appeals recognized that Defendant's motion was untimely but concluded that Defendant had shown that extension of the one-year time period for filing his motion was necessary to prevent a manifest injustice. The court then remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant failed to establish manifest injustice, and therefore, the district court did not err in summarily denying the motion. View "Noyce v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' decision affirming the district court's summary denial of Defendant's motion to correct an allegedly illegal sentence but reversed its erroneous holding that it could not consider the legality of Defendant's other four prior Illinois convictions, holding that an appellate court has the authority to consider an illegal sentence issue raised for the first time on appeal. Before the district court, Defendant argued that five of his prior Illinois convictions were improperly classified as person felonies in his Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act criminal history calculation. The court of appeals rejected Defendant's challenge to the classification of one of his prior convictions but refused to consider the legality of the other four convictions on the grounds that those challenges were made for the first time on appeal. The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals (1) properly concluded that one of Defendant's prior convictions was properly scored as a person felony; but (2) erred when it declined to consider the legality of Defendant's sentence from the perspective of the classification of all five prior Illinois convictions. View "State v. Sartin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this quiet title action involving the mineral interests in two tracts of real estate, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the grantees' successors in interest obtained ownership of minerals when twenty years expired without production on the property, holding that the common-law rule against perpetuities (the rule) should not be applicable to the circumstances of this case. The tracts at issue were conveyed by deeds in which the grantor excepted the mineral interests for a "period of 20 years or as long thereafter" as minerals may be produced. The grantor's successors in interest claimed full ownership of the mineral interest in both tracts, arguing that the future ownership of the minerals when the grantor's excepted term interest ended violated the rule, thereby voiding those conveyances ab initial and preventing them from devolving to the grantees' successors in interest. The district court concluded that the grantees' heirs obtained ownership of the minerals when twenty years expired without production on the property. The Supreme Court affirmed on different grounds, holding that the rule did not apply under these circumstances. View "Jason Oil Co. v. Littler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's classification of Defendant's prior Washington state residential burglary conviction as a person felony, holding that the Washington offense's intent element was broader than that required to commit a Kansas person crime. Defendant pleaded guilty to two drug-related felony convictions that occurred in 2014. In 2016, the district court held a sentencing hearing. The court calculated a criminal history score of B, based in part on classifying as a person felony a 2003 Washington conviction for residential burglary. After Defendant was sentenced he appealed, arguing that the sentencing court erred in classifying his Washington residential burglary conviction as a person felony because the Washington statute was broader than the Kansas burglary statute. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant's prior residential burglary must be scored as a nonperson felony under Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-6811(e)(3). View "State v. Saucedo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's sentence in each of three docketed cases in this appeal and remanded each for resentencing, holding that the sentencing court erred in classifying two Arkansas misdemeanors as person offenses when determining Defendant's criminal history score after he pleaded guilty to three counts of felony theft and one count of attempted aggravated burglary. The court of appeals held that Defendant's Arkansas false imprisonment conviction was properly scored as a person crime but vacated the sentences because the record was unclear what statute or subsection Defendant's Arkansas battery offense arose under. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) there is no comparable Kansas person crime to the Arkansas false imprisonment conviction, and therefore, the lower courts erred when concluding that the Arkansas offense should be classified as a person crime; and (2) insufficient evidence supported the person-crime classification for the Arkansas battery conviction because the record did not reflect which statutory provision Defendant was convicted under. Therefore, remand was required for the district court to conduct further proceedings before classifying the Arkansas battery conviction. View "State v. Ewing" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law